Appearing on the BBC program "Radio Times," Dawkins called the burqa -- which conceals women's bodies except for their hands and eyes -- a "full bin-liner thing," suggesting they resemble the plastic used to line trash bins, and said he feels "visceral revulsion" when he sees women wearing them.
He told the Daily Mail, however, that he does not support a legal ban on the garments.
"I do feel visceral revulsion at the burqa because for me it is a symbol of the oppression of women," he said. "As a liberal I would hesitate to propose a blanket ban on any style of dress because of the implications for individual liberty and freedom of choice."
Dawkins, best known for his opposition to creationism, is about to release a documentary opposing religious schools.
Seyyed Ferjani of the Muslim Association of Britain said women can choose whether to adopt the burqa.
"I think it is ignorant and Islamophobic," Ferjani said. "This kind of thing has been on the rise for some time. Britain is a diverse and free society."
Britain appears unlikely to adopt a burqa ban such as the one now in place in France. Immigration Minister Damian Greene called legislating dress styles "rather un-British."